A Wicked Scoff...Recipes and Food with Newfoundland and New England Influences.

This blog is dedicated to bring recipes, photographs, anecdotes, reviews and other insights on everything food related. As the name suggests, "A Wicked Scoff" will have a regional flare, a fusion if you will, of both Newfoundland and New England perspectives of the culinary world around me. Thanks for visiting and please come back often as updates will be frequent. Oh yeah, I also like tasting and cooking with regional beers. Expect a beer of the month, often paired with recipes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Braised Short Ribs

Here is a nice hearty supper, that is simply to prepare and ultra satisfying. While this is more of a winter meal, since its a rich, meaty slow cooked dish, it will be great anytime. Just make sure its not on a hot day as you'll need your stovetop on for 3+ hours. Alternatively this could be done on the counter in a slow cooker. The beef ribs are a very tough and fatty cut of meat (makes great salt meat in Newfoundland) and thus it need a long slow cooking time to break down and become melt in your mouth tender.Whatever method, the key to great beefy flavor is to give the short ribs a good sear on all sides before braising with sauteed vegetables in red wine and beef stock. Here is how I made my 'bistro" style braised short ribs, which I served with some rough mashed red potatoes and steamed artichokes.

Braised Beef Short Ribs (2 servings for a romantic Euro style date night)

In a large heavy bottom pot or preferably an enamel cast iron dutch over, heat over medium high heat:
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.
Liberally season 4 beef short ribs on all sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.

When the oil is hot place the ribs in the pot. Brown on all sides, turning with tongs every 1-2 mintues.

Reduce heat to medium, and remove ribs and reserve to the side.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 large rib of celery, chopped
-6-8 white button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced

Saute the vegetables until translucent.
Toss in 6-8 cherry tomatoes or 1 tomato roughly chopped.
Add 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped.

Cook for a minute or so and deglaze the pot (scrape with a wooden spoon) with 1 cup of red wine (whatever you have on hand - I had a bottle of Shiraz open from the night before) and 2 cups of beef stock. Return the ribs to the pot and add 2 Tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce and a shake of red pepper flakes (optional and to taste). Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low (maintain the simmer). Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Partially remove the lid and turn on your overhead fan to reduce the sauce down. Continue to simmer, increase heat a little bit if necessary. When tender, serve on mashed potatoes and pour the vegetables and reduced sauce over the beef.

To make the potatoes, simple quarter 4 red potatoes (skin on) and boil in well salted water until tender. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and 2-3 Tbsp of butter, a pinch of salt and pepper and mash. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Braised Chicken Breast and Pasta

About a week ago I was still feeling Italian, and in the mood to create a hearty chicken and pasta meal using ingredients I had on hand in the fridge and pantry. This is what I came up with. I had bone-in skin-on chicken breast, and I thought browning them off, adding some aromatic vegetables and braising it all in white wine and chicken stock would be a good idea.  I served it on farfalle pasta with fresh herbs and grated Parmesan cheese.For a side dish I took advantage of the bounty of asparagus we have right now. I wrapped the blanched asparagus in thin prosciutto, topped with olive oil and breadcrumbs and browned them in a hot oven. Here is how I made the chicken pasta dish. I though it tasted great.

In a large dutch oven, heat on medium-high:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil

Add 4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (seasoned with salt and pepper) and brown on all sides.

While chicken is browning, thinly slice
- 1 red onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic

Once chicken is browned, remove from the pot, and add the sliced onion and peppers (add a little more oil if necessary) and saute until tender. Add garlic, 1 Tbsp of capers (rough chop) and return chicken to the pot. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with 1 cup of dry white wine and scrape all of the browned bits with a wooden spatula. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes and 1 Tbsp of dried Italian herbs.

Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered (or partially covered) until chicken reaches internal temperature of 160 degrees (about 20-25 minutes). Sprinkle with freshly chopped Italian parsley and taste sauce for seasoning. Serve the chicken, vegetables and reduced wine/stock sauce over cooked pasta (I liked farfalle) and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Broiled Swordfish with Lemon and Olive Oil

While in Italy, I enjoyed some delicious grilled swordfish at a rustic little restaurant in Sorrento. It was after a long day of hiking all over the island of Capri we had worked up quite an appetite. When we left our hotel to go out for supper the skies had opened up, and by the time we time we made it to the main piazza we were soaking wet. We walked up and down some random side streets (actually like narrow alleys, but the locals drive on them, mostly by moped) until we located  what looked like a nice place to eat. This place looked to have a mix of locals and tourists so we felt good about it. We hung our dripping coats on the rack and sat and relaxed over an excellent meal and some nice wine.

Here are my take on two dishes we enjoyed that day...caprese salad and grilled swordfish.

Caprese Salad
For lunch in Capri we shared a much deserved lunch consisting of margarita pizza and a caprese salad over looking the ocean.This salad, which means "salad in the style of Capri" couldn't be simpler to prepare. It consists of three simple ingredients, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. It's great just like that or seasoned with a little olive oil and vinegar (balsamic or red wine). To make it, simply arrange slices of the cheese and tomato topped with basil however you wish. Common ways to do so are in individual stacks or around a platter. As you can see in the photo, I made mine atop some lettuce as to make it a little more substantial of a first course salad.

Grilled/Broiled/Baked Swordfish

Which ever one of the above methods you choose, the same basis hold true when cooking a firm, "meaty" fish like swordfish...do not overcook it! Swordfish is one of my favorite seafood choices but whenever it is over cooked it becomes very dry. The nice thing this recipe does to overcome that is using a quick marinade/basting sauce, a quick cooking time, and a good squeeze fresh lemon juice at the end.

About 10-15 minutes before cooking, toss: 4  -- 6 ounce swordfish fillets (steaks) with a little olive oil, the zest of one lemon and a little fresh thyme.

Preheat the broiler or your grill on high. Once the grill/broiler is hot, season the fish well with salt and pepper. Cook the fish to a medium-well doneness for about 8 minutes in the oven or 3-4 minutes per side on the grill. About 1 minute brfore removing from the heat squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the fish.

Remove from heat and serve with lemon slices and fresh chopped parsley. If cooked in the oven, you will be left with a flavorful lemon-fish broth. Spoon the warm lemon sauce over the fish when serving.

Buona appetito!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back from hiatus.

After a lengthy hiatus, A Wicked Scoff is back. Hopefully I'll be able to maintain a healthy dose of new posts starting with today's entry. While I admit I have been it lazy these last couple of months (blogging that is, not cooking...I prioritize cooking and eating over most things in life...except for my lovely wife), this spring has not been without its share of distractions. With being on vacation in Italy for a week (more on that later), taking advantage of the extra daylight after work to do yard work, and the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I've been a bit preoccupied. After getting some requests and questions from friends recently however on "where's A Wicked Scoff hiding" I decided that I will be a better multi-tasker. It's really not that hard to blog about food and watch hockey at the same time you know.

With all that being said, I want to share with you a little bit about the recent vacation my wife and I went on. We traveled to Italy's Amalfi Coast and the city of Naples, truly one of the most culturally rich and significant ,not to mention beautifully scenic, destinations in the world. From the famous archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculeneum, to Mt. Vesuvius (a volcano that could erupt at any time and wipe out more than a million people) to the jaw dropping twisty winding cliff edge road ways of the famous Amalfi Coast, to the posh Island of Capri, and finally to the rural and touristy mix of towns and fishing villages with impressive architecture and cathedrals, we saw and did a lot. What was as impressive as anything about this destination, as you may well imaging, was the food.

It's no secret that Italy is considered to be paradise for many food lovers, however the regional cuisines across Italy are quite diverse, notably between northern Italy and coastal southern Italy. The region we went to, known as Campania, is known for a few specialties, including pizza (Naples [Napoli] is the birthplace of pizza), fresh seafood, and lemons. Popular dishes from this region include Caprese salad (fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves), margarita pizza (thin crust pizza cooked in an extremely hot wood burning oven topped simply with marinara, mozzarella and basil, fresh fried fish (fritto pesce ) typically cuttlefish, calamari and large shrimps, mussels or clams and fresh pasta (very lightly tossed with olive oil, cherry tomatoes and parsley), broiled fish fillet, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and the list goes on. Also traditional for this region is to take a shot of the very potent lemon liquor known as limoncello. Needless to say we ate very well, and I came home inspired to recreate some of the wonderful dishes and flavors I experienced. Maybe a few pounds heavier too with all the gelato (Italian ice cream) I ate!

So while Italian cuisine doesn't seem to have much in common with Newfoundland or New England cooking styles I think you'll be surprised on how many of the dishes I will share with you over the next few weeks will actually be familiar with your taste buds and your cooking philosophy. Simple preparation, fresh ingredients and hearty, satisfying meals.While pizza, fresh herbs, olive oil, buffalo mozzarella and pasta may not be classic Newfoundland/New England ingredients, fresh seafood certainly is. Other rustic ingredients like bread, potatoes and beans are also traditional in Italy as they are in this neck of the woods. Some of the upcoming recipes I will be sharing over the next little while will include broiled swordfish with lemon and olive oil, olive oil fried cod loins, pasta in the style of Sorrento, spaghetti and clams, tuna salad (not what you think), gnocchi (potato pasta), and much more.

Stay tuned, and stay hungry.
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